US8595358B2 - System, method, and apparatus for deploying traffic plans - Google Patents

System, method, and apparatus for deploying traffic plans Download PDF

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US8595358B2
US8595358B2 US12/921,786 US92178608A US8595358B2 US 8595358 B2 US8595358 B2 US 8595358B2 US 92178608 A US92178608 A US 92178608A US 8595358 B2 US8595358 B2 US 8595358B2
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service
services
traffic plan
elements
aspects
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John Yuen
Philip Steele
David Cauz
Wilson Wong
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Redknee Inc
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Redknee Inc
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L41/00Arrangements for maintenance or administration or management of packet switching networks
    • H04L41/08Configuration management of network or network elements
    • H04L41/0893Assignment of logical groupings to network elements; Policy based network management or configuration
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/02Details
    • H04L12/14Metering, charging or billing arrangements specially adapted for data wireline or wireless communications
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/02Details
    • H04L12/14Metering, charging or billing arrangements specially adapted for data wireline or wireless communications
    • H04L12/1403Architecture for metering, charging or billing
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/02Details
    • H04L12/14Metering, charging or billing arrangements specially adapted for data wireline or wireless communications
    • H04L12/1485Tariff-related aspects
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L41/00Arrangements for maintenance or administration or management of packet switching networks
    • H04L41/08Configuration management of network or network elements
    • H04L41/0803Configuration setting of network or network elements
    • H04L41/0806Configuration setting of network or network elements for initial configuration or provisioning
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W28/00Network traffic or resource management
    • H04W28/16Central resource management; Negotiation of resources or communication parameters, e.g. negotiating bandwidth or QoS [Quality of Service]

Abstract

A configurator is provided that connects with various disparate elements in a telecommunication system. The configurator is adapted to receive a traffic plan that has a plurality of different aspects that are implemented across the disparate elements. The configurator is adapted to generate processing schemas and/or databases that can be used by the disparate elements in order to implement the traffic plan.

Description

FIELD

The present specification relates generally to telecommunications and more particularly relates to a configurator for telecommunications equipment.

BACKGROUND

Hardware advances in computing devices and the networks which interconnect those devices has facilitated an explosion in software applications. Applications such as real-time chat, voice and video are increasingly commonplace and widespread. Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) telephony allows real-time duplex voice communications to be carried over traditional data channels, potentially obviating the need for traditional voice channels, without the latency or jitter normally associated with the specifications of such data channels.

While somewhat behind wireline networks, wireless networks are also increasing in bandwidth to allow substantially real-time chat, voice and video applications to be carried thereover. Likewise, the processing power of handheld portable devices such as cellular telephones and wireless personal digital assistants can now accommodate such applications.

Traditional revenue sources for wireline and wireless networks include voice telephony and traditional data communications. However, the above-mentioned advances are confusing the means by which network operators are compensated by consumers. For example, traditional voice channels were configured to be carried over twisted pair copper telephone wires, yet, technology advances now permit high speed Internet communications to be carried over twisted pair. Still further advances now permit voice communications to be carried over those Internet connections. As a result, the subscriber may eschew the underlying voice service in favour of the Internet service which now serves to provide both voice and traditional data connectivity for the subscriber. This erodes the underlying revenue base for the wireline carrier, whose business model may depend on charging separate fees for both voice and traditional data services. Hardware advances now raise the same possibility of erosion of revenue sources for wireless carriers, which originally offered only wireless voice connectivity but are increasing offering both voice and data connectivity. However the subscriber may be able to find applications to carry the voice service over the data link and thereby avoid charges for voice services.

The preceding examples are the tip of the iceberg. Applications such as Skype, Google Maps, You Tube, file sharing services were unforeseen applications that can radically alter the bandwidth profiles for each subscriber, with deleterious effects on bandwidth and quality-of-service allocations which did not anticipate these services. The result can be a serious deterioration of quality of service for some subscribers as other subscribers unfairly monopolize all available bandwidth.

To address the foregoing, it is increasingly becoming known to monitor wireless traffic so that it can be classified and further processed according to classification, such further processing including the possibility of blocking the traffic and/or to apply different rates of charge according to classification. However, current network infrastructures can still be improved. Indeed, one problem is that, even within the current 3GPP or 3GPP2 specifications for different telecommunication elements, it can readily arise that configurations for those elements within one carrier infrastructure are handled in a disparate manner.

SUMMARY

From one perspective, the present specification provides a configurator that connects with various disparate elements in a telecommunication system. The configurator is adapted to receive a traffic plan that has a plurality of different aspects that are implemented across the disparate elements. Exemplary aspects include policy aspects and charging aspects. Such a traffic plan can include tariffs, rating rules, pricing, bandwidth, priorities, allow/block indicators, bundling details and can include other controls that pertain to the behavior of a subscriber's use of an application, content, or service. The configurator is adapted to generate processing schemas and/or databases that can be used by the disparate elements in order to implement the traffic plan.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a processing schematic representation of a communication system.

FIG. 2 is a flow-chart depicting a method of configuring a communication system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

The following definitions relate to telecommunication structures referenced in this specification:

“3GPP Standards” means the Technical Specifications as have been produced by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) as updated from time to time.

“3GPP2 Standards” means the Technical Specifications as have been produced by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2) as updated from time to time.

“AAA” means Authentication, Authorization and Accounting

“AF” means Application Function as described in 3GPP TS 23.203—“3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; Policy and charging control architecture” as updated from time to time

“AS” means Application Server

“CDR” means Call Detail Record

“DIAMETER protocol” means the computer networking protocol for AAA that is a successor to RADIUS as generally described by IETF RFC 3588—“Diameter Base Protocol” as updated from time to time

“DPI” means Deep Packet Inspection

“GGSN” means GPRS Gateway Service Node as described in 3GPP TS 23.203—“3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; Policy and charging control architecture” as updated from time to time

“Gx” means the link and protocol that resides between the PCEF and the PCRF as generally described in 3GPP TS 23.203—“3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; Policy and charging control architecture” as updated from time to time

“Gy” means the link and protocol that resides between the OCS and the PCEF as generally described in 3GPP TS 23.203—“3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; Policy and charging control architecture” as updated from time to time

“GPRS” means General Packet Radio Service

“IETF” means Internet Engineering Task Force

“IMS” means IP Multimedia Subsystem as described in 3GPP TS 23.228—“3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS); Stage 2” as updated from time to time.

“IP” means Internet Protocol

“ISDN” means Integrated Services Digital Network

“MSISDN” means Mobile Subscriber ISDN Number

“OCS” means Online Charging Server as described in 3GPP TS 23.203—“3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; Policy and charging control architecture” as updated from time to time

“PCC” means Policy and Charging Control as described in 3GPP TS 23.228—“3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS); Stage 2” as updated from time to time

“PCEF” means Policy Charging Enforcement Function as described in 3GPP TS 23.203—“3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; Policy and charging control architecture” as updated from time to time

“PCRF” means Policy Charging Rules Function as described in 3GPP TS 23.203—“3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; Policy and charging control architecture” as updated from time to time.

“P-CSCF” means Proxy Call Session Control Function as described in 3GPP TS 23.228—“3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS); Stage 2” as updated from time to time

“RADIUS” means Remote Authentication Dial In User Service

“RAT type” means Radio Access Technology type

“Rx” means the link and protocol that resides between the AF and the PCRF as generally described in 3GPP TS 23.203—“3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; Policy and charging control architecture” as updated from time to time

“RFC” means Request for Comments

“SIP” means Session Initiation Protocol

“SCP” means Service Control Point

“SPR” means Subscription Profile Repository as generally described in 3GPP TS 23.203—“3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; Policy and charging control architecture” as updated from time to time

“SIP” identity means canonical SIP Uniform Resource Identifier employed to reach a user or device (such as ‘sip:alice@atlanta.com’)

“SUB ID” means any unique SUB IDentifier. SUB ID can be, for example, a MSISDN or a SIP identity.

Referring now to FIG. 1, a communication system is indicated generally at 50. System 50 comprises a GGSN 54 operated by a carrier C. GGSN 54 interconnects a wireless client device 58 operated by a subscriber S and a server 62. GGSN 54 is based on known GGSN infrastructures, with novel modifications thereto as will be discussed further below. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the GGSN 54 may be manifested as other network elements in the context of other access technologies. For example, a packet serving data node (PDSN) for a code division multiple access (CDMA) based network; the IP edge router for a European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) based network; the cable Modem termination system (CMTS) for a PacketCable based network; a access service network (ASN) gateway for a WiMax based network; or a deep-packet inspection node for a generic internet protocol based network.

Wireless client device 58 is associated with a subscriber S and can be based on any known or future-conceived mobile or nomadic communication equipment including, for example, a cellular telephone or a wireless personal digital assistant. While not shown herein, it will understood by those skilled in the art that the wireless client device 58 includes a hardware configuration that may comprise one or more input devices in the form of a keyboard, microphone and the like; one or more output devices in the form of a display, a speaker and the like; a radio for conducting wireless communications; all of which are interconnected by a microcomputer comprised of one or more central processing units that itself is connected to volatile memory and non-volatile memory.

Wireless client device 58 connects to GGSN 54 via a first link 66. First link 66 is based on any combination of wireless and wired infrastructures that are now-known, or future-conceived, that can connect wireless client device 58 with GGSN 54. For example, first link 66 can conform with a 3GPP infrastructure that includes a wireless base station that communicates wirelessly with the radio in client device 58, backhaul such as a T1, a mobile switching center, routers and the like.

Server 62 can be based on any known or future-conceived servers, including for example, a web server or any other type of server capable of hosting a service 70 on behalf of client device 58 and for use by subscriber S. Any type of service 70 is contemplated including applications. Examples of services include, but are not limited to, software downloads, web-pages, instant messaging, email, web-mail, mapping services, location applications, social networking services and applications, file sharing services and applications, peer-to-peer services, music or video streams or downloads. Thus, it should be understood that server 62 can be any other computing device to which client device 58 may communicate, including another client device, and thus service 70 can also include peer-to-peer type applications including voice over IP, and file sharing. While not shown herein, it will be understood by those skilled in the art the server 62 includes a hardware configuration that may comprise one or more input devices in the form of a keyboard, a mouse and the like; one more output devices in the form of a display, and the like; a network interface for conducting network communications; all of which are interconnected by a microcomputer comprised of one or more central processing units that itself is connected to volatile memory and non-volatile memory.

Server 62 connects to GGSN 54 via a second link 74. Second link 74 is based on any combination of wireless or wired infrastructures that are now-known, or future-conceived, that can connect server 62 with GGSN 54. For example, second link 74 can include a 3GPP infrastructure associated with GGSN 54 that includes a gateway to a local area network or wide area network that in turn uses a data protocol such as the IP. Likewise, second link 74 can include relevant portions of the Internet associated with server 62, which connects to the network interface in server 62.

GGSN 54 itself can be based on any known or future-conceived servers having a hardware structure that is generally consistent with the hardware structure discussed in relation to server 62 except including the appropriate interfaces to connect to link 66 and link 74 and (other links as discussed below as shown in FIG. 1), as well as including software that configures the server to fulfill the function of a GGSN as prescribed by the relevant 3GPP standards. GGSN 54 is configured to implement a DPI engine 75. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the methods of identifying and classifying distinct subscriber and application specific bearer flows are collectively referred to as ‘Deep Packet Inspection’ capabilities. With respect to parametric information that is inherent in the bearer data flow that can be used to identify and classify subscriber or application specific data flows, this may include the source and destination internet protocol addresses, port information, protocol information, and other information that conveys the access technology used (such as the Radio Access Technology parameter). Information that may be conveyed between the device 58 and the server 62 may include the application identifier, flow identifiers, and the media type(s) associated with a given service or application. In addition to the utilization of explicit addressing or application information inherent in the data flow or conveyed from external network elements or application servers, the DPI engine 75 may recognize patterns or characteristic traffic flows as indicative ‘signatures’ that are associated with a given service or application. GGSN 54 is also configured to implement a PCEF 76 as will be discussed further below. In a present embodiment, DPI engine 75 and PCEF 76 are implemented as software processes on GGSN 54, although it is to be understood that they can be implemented on one or more separate pieces of hardware functionally connected to GGSN 54.

GGSN 54 also connects to an OCS 82 via a third link 86. OCS 82 itself can be based on any known or future-conceived servers having a hardware structure that is generally consistent with the hardware structure discussed in relation server to 62 except including the appropriate interfaces to connect to link 86, as well as including software that configures the server to fulfill the function of an OCS as prescribed in the 3GPP standards OCS 82 is configured to fulfill charging functions in relation to the subscriber account associated with subscriber S (such as maintaining records in association with the MSISDN of device 58) in at least one of a post-paid and a pre-paid context. In the post-paid context OCS 82 is thus configured to generate CDRs that can be used to add charges to the bill or account of a subscriber. In the pre-paid context OCS 82 is thus configured to fulfill the functions of an SCP (and in fact OCS 82 can be implemented as an SCP) that can be used to deduct amounts from a subscriber's prepaid balance. Regardless of the post-paid or pre-paid context, in a present exemplary embodiment OCS 82 is configured to perform such charging in a substantially real-time manner, whereby as the service is being delivered to subscriber S, the charges associated with that service are being applied. Third link 86 can be based on any physical infrastructure that is suitable for connecting GGSN 54 to OCS 82 as will now occur to those of skill in the art. For example, third link 86 can be configured to carrying communications using the Gy protocol. Those skilled in the art will now recognize that the Gy protocol may be manifested as other protocols in the context of other access technologies. For example, where the analogous protocol for a code division multiple access (CDMA) based network is generally described in 3GPP2 X.50013—“All-IP Core Network Multimedia Domain” as amended from time to time and where the analogous protocol for an internet protocol access technology is generally described in ETSI ES 282 003: “Telecommunications and Internet converged Services and Protocols for Advanced Networking (TISPAN); Resource and Admission Control Sub-system (RACS) Functional Architecture” as amended from time to time.

GGSN 54 also connects to a PCRF 90 via a fourth link 94. PCRF 90 itself can be based on any known or future-conceived servers having a hardware structure that is generally consistent with the hardware structure discussed in relation server to 62 except including the appropriate interfaces to connect to link 94 as well as including software that configures the server to fulfill the function of a PCRF as prescribed in the 3GPP standards. PCRF 90 is configured to fulfill tariff decision, bandwidth quality decision and traffic gating decision (collectively the traffic plan decision) functions which in turn can be used by PCEF 76 within GGSN 54 and eventually by OCS 82 in order to determine the actual charge. PCRF 90 is thus configured to decide traffic policies between device 58 and server 62, including, but not limited to, traffic associated with the access of service 70 on device 58. Indeed PCRF 90 is configured to decide traffic policies on all traffic types carried by GGSN 54. PCRF 90 is also configured to perform such traffic plan decision in substantially real time in order to coordinate with the real time functionality of OCS 82.

Fourth link 94 can be based on any physical infrastructure that is suitable for connecting GGSN 54 to PCRF 90. In a present embodiment fourth link 94 is configured to communications using the Gx protocol. In a more general embodiment, fourth link 94 is configured to carry communications relative to the final determination of an actual traffic plan decision for a given traffic that is being carried between device 58 and server 62.

Those skilled in the art will now recognize that the various protocols discussed herein may be manifested as other protocols in the context of other access technologies. For example, where the analogous protocols for a code division multiple access (CDMA) based network are generally described in 3GPP2 X.S0013—“All-IP Core Network Multimedia Domain” as amended from time to time and where the analogous protocols for an internet protocol access technology are generally described in ETSI ES 282 003: “Telecommunications and Internet converged Services and Protocols for Advanced Networking (TISPAN); Resource and Admission Control Sub-system (RACS) Functional Architecture” as amended from time to time.

PCRF 90 also connects to SPR 102 via fifth link 106. SPR 102 can be implemented as a file server which includes a microcomputer, a network interface and persistent storage in order to maintain data and in order to allow that data to be accessed by PCRF 90 and any other network element that connects to SPR 102. The data that SPR 102 is configured to maintain includes profile information about subscriber S. Such profile information can include, but need not be limited to, an identification of subscriber S (including for example the MSISDN of device 58), whether subscriber S is a prepaid or postpaid subscriber, the various types of traffic that subscriber S is permitted to received on device 58, the various rates for any traffic that subscriber S accesses on device 58, including rates for traffic associated with the accessing of service 70 on device 58, subscriber preferences such as a preferred quality of service to be associated with accessing a given service 70 via device 58, and subscriber or network operator imposed limitations such as an upper bound on the total bandwidth consumed by subscriber S via device 58.

Fifth link 106 can be based on any desired physical link and protocol in order to communicate subscriber profile data to PCRF 90. It should now be apparent that SPR 102 can be implemented within PCRF 90, or it can be situated remotely from PCRF 90 so that a plurality of different PCRFs (not shown) and other network elements can centrally access profile data relative to subscriber 102.

System 50 also comprises a plurality of storage devices 110, 114 and 118. As can be seen in FIG. 1, storage device 110 is connected to OCS 82 and is therefore configured to maintain data usable by OCS 82 to permit OCS 82 to fulfill its functions. Likewise, storage device 114 is connected to PCRF 90 and is therefore configured to maintain data usable by PCRF 90 to permit PCRF 90 to fulfill its functions. Likewise, storage device 118 is connected to SPR 102 and is therefore configured to maintain data usable by SPR 102 to permit SPR 102 to fulfill its functions. It should now be apparent that each storage device 110, 114 and 118 can be implemented, if desired, as a component within its respective component.

It can also be noted at this point that storage devices 110, 114 and 118 each maintain using different data structures, and that some of those data structures can be common amongst all storage devices 110, 114 and 118, while some of those data structures can be disparate amongst all storage devices 110, 114 and 118. The common data structures can arise because aspects of those storage devices are constrained by the requirements 3GPP Standards. The fact The different data structures can arise because aspects of those storage devices will be constrained by unique specifications of the carrier C that defines the domain in which GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102 are operated. Alternatively, or additionally, the fact that different specifications for data structures have arisen can result from the fact that GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102 may themselves be designed according to different specifications (e.g. one or more of GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102 may be provided by different originating equipment manufacturers each with their own unique “flavor” or variation.) Alternatively, or additionally, the fact that different specifications for data structures have arisen can result from the fact that GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102 may have been deployed at different times and according to different programs and therefore the data structures associated therewith have been specified differently.

Notwithstanding the specific examples above, it should now be understood that in general each storage device 110, 114, and 118 needs to maintain data that is consistent with the other storage devices 110, 114 and 118; but each storage device 110, 114 and 118 can also have extra data that is not found at the other storage devices 110, 114 and 118. Therefore, all storage device 110, 114, and 118 have to be synchronized according to the specific configuration detail they each need to hold. (Those skilled in the art will now recognize that in FIG. 1 GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82, SPR 102 and the associated storage devices 110, 114 and 118 are enclosed within the dashed enclosed area indicated at reference C, which represents the carrier C that operates those components. It should also now be understood however that carrier C is a simplified example and that those skilled in the art will recognize how a variation of system 50 can accommodate the components within carrier C being operated by multiple carriers to accommodate roaming scenarios).

System 50 also comprises a configurator 122 that connects to each of GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102. As will be discussed further below, configurator 122 is configured to receive a traffic plan for subscribers and to automatically deploy that plan amongst GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102 such that GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102 will be configured to implement said traffic plan.

Configurator 122 can be implemented using known computing environments having appropriate network interfaces to connected with GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102. Such a computing environment could be based on a commercial server that includes a microprocessor and volatile storage. The volatile storage can be implemented as random access memory (“RAM”) and can be used to temporarily store applications and data as they are being used by processor. Configurator 122 also includes read only memory (“ROM”) connected to the microprocessor which contains a basic operating system containing rudimentary programming instructions, commonly known as a Basic Input/Output System (“BIOS”) that are executable by the microprocessor when configurator 122 is initially powered so that a higher level operating system and applications can be loaded and executed on processor. Collectively, one can view the processor, volatile storage device and ROM as a microcomputer. It should now be apparent that configurator 122 can be based on the structure and functionality of a commercial server such as a Sun Fire X4450 Server from Sun Microsystems Inc., of Palo Alto, USA, but it is to be stressed that this is a purely exemplary server, as configurator 122 could also be based on any type of computing device including from other manufacturers.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a communication method represented in the form of a flow-chart is indicated generally at 200. Method 200 can be implemented using system 50 or functionally equivalent modified versions of system 50. To help provide further understanding relative to method 200 and system 50, method 200 will be discussed in relation to exemplary performance of method 200 using system 50.

At block 205, a traffic plan is received. Block 205 is performed at configurator 122 which can receives a data file representing a traffic plan. The mean by which the plan is received is not particularly limited, and can occur, for example, via a user operating a computer terminal that is connected to configurator 122, whereby the user enters in data via a graphical user interface that represents the traffic plan.

In the present exemplary embodiment the traffic plan is unique to a set of subscribers, including subscriber S, that are associated with traffic plans being offered by carrier C. It should be understood that traffic policies for any number of subscribers S associated with carrier C are contemplated.

The traffic plan includes a plurality of aspects. In a present embodiment, the traffic plan is based on the 3GPP standards and therefore includes charging aspects and policy aspects, where the charging aspects are aspects respective to OCS 82, and the policy aspects are aspects respective to PCRF 90 and SPR 102, and both charging aspects and policy aspects respective to GGSN 54. Table I shows a simplified example of a traffic plan, which includes entries that are unique to subscriber S.

TABLE I Exemplary contents of Traffic plan Field 5 Field 6 Field 7 Field 8 Field 1 Field 2 Field 3 Field 4 Usage Billing Basic Roaming Entry SUB ID Service Bit Rate Volume Period Arrangement Rate Rate 1 S VT1—VOIP 115 kbps  100 MB Day Postpaid $10.00/ $30.00/MB tel 1 MB 2 S TC1—Text  1 kbps Unlimited Unlimited Postpaid  $2.00/  $3.00 MB chat 1 MB 3 S MS1—Music 25 kbps 50 Day Postpaid  $1.00/  $2.00/ stream 1 songs song song

Explaining the structure of Table I in greater detail, Field 1 entitled “SUB ID”, is an identifier that can be used uniquely identify a subscriber (e.g. subscriber S). The identifier can either be specific to a device (such as device 58), or to each specific subscriber (such as subscriber S) contemplating that each subscriber could authenticate with different computing devices and still be subject to the same traffic plan. (While not discussed herein, where subscribers are permitted to authenticate with different computing devices, then policy P could be further enriched, beyond what is shown in Table I, to vary the policy according to the computing device, or even the nature of links connecting the device to network 58). Field 2 of Table I, entitled “Service” identifies the various types of services that are subject to the traffic plan. As will be explained in greater detail below, services can include any type of service that is currently known or as yet unknown, including voice telephony, chat, video streaming, music streaming and so on. Field 3 of Table I, entitled “Bit Rate” is the maximum permitted bit rate associated with a particular service. Field 4 of Table I, entitled “Volume” is the maximum amount of data that can be downloaded to device 70 and uploaded from device 70. Field 5, of Table I, entitled “Usage Period” defines the period during which the volume defined in Field 4 is measured. That is to say where usage period indicates “Day” and Volume indicates “1 MB”, then the subscriber will be permitted one Megabyte of data transfer during one day. Field 6, of Table I, entitled “Excess Permitted” defines whether the subscriber is permitted to exceed the limits defined in Fields 4 and 5. Such excess may be permitted should the subscriber S agree to be subject to increased billing rates, and/or the sacrifice of limits for other services, and/or some other consideration in exchange for being permitted to exceed the limits defined in Fields 4 or 5. Those skilled in the art will recognize that Fields 3, 4, and 5 can be each divided into two separate fields, one for up-stream traffic from device 70 to network 58 and the other for downstream traffic from network 58. Field 6 of Table I, entitled “Billing Arrangement” indicates whether a particular service is on a post paid or prepaid basis. Field 7 entitled “Basic Rate” indicates the rate that is charged for a particular service if that particular subscriber accesses that service from within carrier C's coverage area, and according to the corresponding data in Fields 3, 4 and 5. Field 8 entitled “Roaming Rate” indicates the rate that is charged for a particular service if that subscriber S does not that service from within carrier C's coverage area, but instead within the coverage are of another carrier.

It should also be understood that “Volume”, can, in other embodiments express different, or additional volume metrics, such as an event count (e.g. number of instant messages), minutes (e.g. maximum number of minutes of VoIP calling). Other volume metrics will now occur to those of skill in the art.

Explaining each exemplary service in greater detail, “VT1—VOIP tel 1” in Field 2, Entry 1 identifies a VOIP telephony service that is offered by a first service provider. For example “VT1—VOIP tel 1” could be the well known VOIP application Skype, available at http://www.skype.com. “TC1—Text chat 1” in Field 2, Entry 2 identifies a “chat” service that is offered by a first service provider. For example “TC1—Text chat 1” could be the well known chat application, Google Talk, available at http://google.com. “MS1—Music stream 1” in Field 2, Entry 3 identifies a streaming audio application that is offered by a first service provider. For example “MS1—Music stream 1” could be based on the well known web-site Pandora, available at http://www.pandora.com. Each of these services will be ascertainable by DPI engine 75 as part of its regular function.

It should now be understood that any type of service can be included in Table I, such as peer-to-peer, video services, mapping services. Also a catchall “unknown” service can also be provided where a particular service is being carried that is not ascertainable by DPI engine 75.

It should now be reemphasized that Table I is a non-limiting example, and one of the features of the specification is the inherent flexibility provided by system 50. Carrier C is able to define any traffic plan that is desired and provide that traffic plan to configurator 122.

At block 210 the traffic plan from block 205 is parsed. As part of this block, configurator 122 will analyze the field structures within Table I and determine which fields are relevant to GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102. At a general level, at block 210 configurator will parse the traffic plan according to which portion of the traffic plan is relevant to the policy aspects of the traffic plan, and which port of the traffic plan is relevant to the charging aspects of the traffic plan. Table II shows which fields are applicable to the policy aspects or charging aspects or both.

TABLE II Fields in Traffic plan Applicable to Different Aspects Field 3 Field 5 Field 6 Field 7 Field 8 Field 1 Field 2 Bit Field 4 Usage Billing Basic Roaming SUB ID Service Rate Volume Period Arrangement Rate Rate Applicable Both Both Policy Both Policy Charging Charging Charging To: policy policy aspect policy aspect Aspect Aspect Aspect and and and charging charging charging aspects aspects aspects

Moving beyond this general analysis, configurator 122 also maps each field to the appropriate element (e.g. GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102). Thus, continuing with the present example Table III.

TABLE III Fields in Traffic plan Applicable to Different Elements Field 5 Field 6 Field 7 Field 8 Field 1 Field 2 Field 3 Field 4 Usage Billing Basic Roaming Element SUB ID Service Bit Rate Volume Period Arrangement Rate Rate GGSN 54 Y Y Y Y Y N N N PCRF 90 Y Y Y Y Y N N N SPR 102 Y Y Y Y Y N N N OCS 82 Y Y N Y N Y Y Y

Explaining Table III in greater detail, various flags are provided which indicate whether a particular field in Table I are applicable to each of GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102. Where a particular field is relevant, then that field will be used as part of creating a sub-plan for that component. For example, Field 1, SUB ID is indicated as being relevant for each of GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102 as part of deploying the traffic plan in Table I across GGSN 54, PCRF 90, OCS 82 and SPR 102. However, Field 7 Billing Arrangement is only applicable to OCS 82.

At block 215, a sub-plan for each element is generated. Block 215 is also performed by configurator 122, which generates a sub-plan for each element.

Beginning with the first element in Table III (GGSN 54) configurator 122 can provide a processing schema for use by GGSN 54 in the application of the traffic plan from Table I. Table IV shows an example of a processing schema that can be generated for GGSN 54 as part of block 215.

TABLE IV Processing schema for use by GGSN 54 Volume Usage Period SUB ID Service Bit Rate (Field 4 (Field 5 (Field 1 from Table I) (Field 2 from Table I) (Field 3 from Table I) from Table I) from Table I) 1. Obtain SUB ID from device 58 as part of 1. Obtain bit rate cap 1. Obtain volume 1. Obtain usage monitoring access to service 70. as part of policy cap as part of period restrictions 2. Obtain Service type of service 70 using information from policy from as part of policy DPI Engine 75. PCRF 90 respective to PCRF 90 from PCRF 90 3. Forward SUB ID and service type to SUB ID and Service. respective to respective to SUB PCRF 90 to obtain bit rate, volume and usage SUB ID and ID and service. period policy information Service. 1. Forward SUB ID and service type to OCS 82 to obtain permission 2. If permission granted by OCS 82, permit service 70 applying bit rate, volume and usage period restrictions. 3. Record usage of service 70 by SUB ID in view of bit rate, volume and usage periods. 4. Forward results or recorded usage to OCS 82.

Thus, the processing schema in Table IV can be deployed at block 220 to GGSN 54 in order to configure GGSN 54 to operate in accordance with the traffic plan in Table I, such that accessing of service 70 by subscriber S is permitted in accordance with the traffic plan of Table I.

Returning again to block 215, turning now to the second element in Table III (PCRF 90) configurator 122 can provide a processing schema for use by PCRF 90 in the application of the traffic plan from Table I. Table V shows an example of a processing schema that can be generated for PCRF 90 as part of block 215.

TABLE V Processing schema for use by PCRF 90 Volume Usage Period SUB ID Service Bit Rate (Field 4 from (Field 5 from (Field 1 from Table I) (Field 2 from Table I) (Field 3 from Table I) Table I) Table I) 1. Obtain SUB ID from GGSN 54. 1. Obtain bit rate cap 1. Obtain volume 1. Obtain usage 2. Obtain Service type from GGSN 54. as part of policy cap as part of period restrictions 3. Access policy information relative to same information from SPR policy from SPR as part of policy from SPR 102 102 respective to SUB 102 respective to from SPR 102 ID and Service. SUB ID and respective to SUB Service. ID and service. 1. Forward bit rate cap, volume cap and usage period restrictions to GGSN 54.

Thus, the processing schema in Table V can be deployed at block 220 to PCRF 90 in order to configure PCRF 90 to operate in accordance with the traffic plan in Table I, such that accessing of service 70 by subscriber S is permitted in accordance with the traffic plan of Table I.

Returning again to block 215, turning now to the third element in Table III (SPR 102) configurator 122 can provide a policy and processing schema for use by SPR 102 in the application of the traffic plan from Table I. Table VI shows an example of a policy that can be generated as part of block 215.

TABLE VI Contents of Policy to be stored at SPR 102 Field 1 Field 5 Subscriber Field 2 Field 3 Field 4 Usage Entry ID Service Bit Rate Volume Period 1 S VT1 - VOIP 115 kbps 100 MB Day tel 1 2 S TC1 - Text  1 kbps Unlimited Unlimited chat 1 3 S MS1 - Music  25 kbps 50 songs Day stream 1

Thus, the database in Table VI can be deployed at block 220 to SPR 102 in order to maintain a policy that reflects the policy aspects of Table I. Table VII shows an example of a processing schema that can be generated for SPR 102 as part of block 215.

TABLE VII Processing schema for use by SPR 102 Usage Period SUB ID Service Bit Rate Volume (Field 5 from (Field 1 from Table I) (Field 2 from Table I) (Field 3 from Table I) (Field 4 from Table I) Table I) 1. Obtain SUB ID from PCRF 90. 1. Obtain bit rate cap 1. Obtain volume cap 1. Obtain usage 2. Obtain Service type from PCRF 90. for subscriber and for subscriber and period restrictions 3. Access policy information relative to same particular service from particular service from for subscriber and from Table VI. Table VI. Table VI. particular service from Table VI. 1. Forward bit rate cap, volume cap and usage period restrictions to PCRF 90

Thus, the processing schema in Table VII can be deployed at block 220 to SPR 102 in order that SPR 102 processes requests from PCRF 90 in a manner that reflects the policy aspects of Table I.

Returning again to block 215, turning now to the fourth element in Table III (OCS 82) configurator 122 can provide a charging database and a processing schema for use by OCS 82 in the application of the traffic plan from Table I. Table VIII shows an example of a charging database that can be generated for PCRF 90 as part of block 215.

TABLE VIII Contents of Charging Database to be stored at OCS 82 SUB ID Service Billing Roaming (Field 1 (Field 2 arrangement Basic Rate Rate from from (Field 6 from (Field 7 from (Field 8 of Entry Table I) Table I) Table I) Table I) Table I) 1 S VT1 - VOIP Postpaid $10.00/MB $30.00/MB tel 1 2 S TC1 - Text Postpaid  $2.00/MB $3.00MB chat 1 3 S MS1 - Music Postpaid  $1.00/song  $2.00/song stream 1

Thus, the database in Table VIII can be deployed at block 220 to OCS 90 in order to maintain a charging database that reflects the charging aspects of Table I. Table IX shows an example of a processing schema that can be generated for OCS 82 as part of block 215.

TABLE IX Processing schema for use by OCS 82 Basic Rate Roaming Rate SUB ID Service Billing arrangement (Field 7 from (Field 8 of (Field 1 from Table I) (Field 2 from Table I) (Field 6 from Table I) Table I) Table I) 1. Obtain SUB ID from GGSN 54. 1. Generate billing records 1. Determine if 1. Determine if 2. Obtain Service type from GGSN 54. according to billing subscriber is subscriber is 3. Permit or deny permission to use service arrangement. For pre-paid using basic rate, roaming, and, if based on charging records associated with arrangements, deduct from and, if so, apply so, apply charges SUB ID pre-paid account. For post- charges based based on roaming paid arrangement, add total on basic rate. rate. charge to subscriber bill.

Thus, the processing schema in Table IX can be deployed at block 220 to OCS 82 in order to configure OCS 82 to operate in accordance with the traffic plan in Table I, such that accessing of service 70 by subscriber S is permitted in accordance with the traffic plan of Table I.

When system 50 is configured according to method 200 using Table I, the usage of service 70 by subscriber S will be performed in accordance with the traffic plan of Table I. In operation, assume that service 70 is VT1—VOIP Tel 1. When subscriber S attempts to access service 70, DPI engine 75 within GGSN 54 will inspect the packets forming the request to access service 70, and will ascertain that subscriber S using device 58 is attempting to access service 70. In turn, GGSN 54 will utilize the processing schema of Table IV to access PCRF 90 to obtain policy information relative to the terms of use of service 70 by subscriber S.

In turn, PCRF 90 will utilize the processing schema of Table V in order to ascertain the relevant policy information. In using the processing schema of Table V, PCRF 90 will access SPR 102. SPR 102 will in turn use the processing schema of Table VII and access the policy in Table VI to obtain the relevant policy information for VT1—VOIP tel 1, in order to ascertain a bit-rate cap of 115 kbps with a maximum volume of 100 megabytes per day. SPR 102 will return this policy information to PCRF 90 which will forward that policy information back to GGSN 54. GGSN 54, still utilizing the processing schema in Table IV, will now access OCS 82 which will use its own processing schema from Table IX coupled with the charging database in Table VIII to perform the charging aspect function of the traffic plan of Table I. If OCS 82 instructs that it permits access, GGSN 54 will (continuing to apply the processing schema of Table IV) permit subscriber S to access service 70, sending appropriate charging information back to OCS 82.

Those skilled in the art will now recognize that the traffic plan in Table I has now been implemented using the foregoing teachings, such that accessing of service 70 by subscriber S is permitted in accordance with the traffic plan of Table I. Advantageously, configurator 122 has provided a central location for receiving the traffic plan and automatically configured the various elements of system 50 to implement the traffic plan. This permits carrier C to modify the traffic plan at any time without having to individually update GGSN 54, PCRF 90, SPR 102 and OCS 82 to respond to such modifications.

Those skilled in the art will also recognize that the Configurator can also apply the traffic plan to other network elements including, but limited to, the Mobile Switching Center Service Capability Interaction Manager (SCIM), and the Call Session Control Function (CSCF) as well as value added service platforms such as the Multimedia Messaging Service Center (MMS-C), Application Server, Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Gateway, Short Message Service Center (SMS-C), Unified Messaging Server, and content (e.g. music or video) distribution servers.

The nature and scope of such service profile criteria information is not particularly limited. For example, traffic plan criteria can include a flag indicating that access of service 70 is not permitted whatsoever by device 58 such that device 58 will be prevented access to service 70. Where access to service 70 is permitted according to the traffic plan criteria, then the traffic plan criteria can include rating information, which can include complex criteria, such as, at least one of: times of day, week or month that access to service 70 is restricted or prevented; tiered rates of charge for accessing service 70 depending on the time of day service 70 is being accessed; maximum bandwidth allocations associated with access to service 70; maximum amounts of data that can be accessed from service 70; tiers of rates associated with higher bandwidths or capacities; tiers of rates associated with whether device 58 is roaming or within its home network; privacy management that anonymizes certain data carried between device 58 and service 70; flat rate charges for unlimited access to service 70; and combinations of any of the foregoing. Other traffic plan criteria will now occur to those of skill in the art. Indeed, traffic plan criteria can be found in the Applicants' co-pending application number PCT/CA2007/001528 and entitled Policy Services, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

While the foregoing describes certain specific embodiments, it is to be reemphasized that those embodiments are exemplary and can be modified and that variations, subsets and combinations of those embodiments are contemplated. Indeed, it is to be reemphasized that the specific examples of processing schemas and databases are simplified for ease of explanation. But it should be understood that the database format of Table I, and the database formats and schema formats of the other Tables can vary according to the specific computing environments used to implement each of the components in system 50, and therefore configurator 122 can in turn be structured to accommodate such specific computing environments. As a still further example, the teachings of PCT/CA2007/001528 can be incorporated into the teachings herein.

The novel teachings herein can provide certain advantages. For example, where elements in system are produced by different vendors or have been deployed using separate specifications, configurator 122 can be deployed so as to automatically accommodate such differences to facilitate efficient deployments of different traffic plans. The teachings herein can satisfy this need.

All third party documents referenced are incorporated herein by reference.

Claims (18)

The invention claimed is:
1. A communication system comprising:
a plurality of different elements for interconnecting a client device having a unique identifier and a server for hosting a service; each of said elements for implementing different aspects of a traffic plan; said traffic plan for regulating access of said service by said client device;
a configurator connected to said elements; said configurator adapted to receive said traffic plan;
said configurator further adapted to automatically generate a first processing schema and to deploy said first processing schema to one of said elements; said first processing schema including policy aspects within said traffic plan; said configurator further adapted to automatically generate a second processing schema and to deploy said second processing schema to at least one of a remainder of said elements; said second processing schema including charging aspects within said traffic plan;
such that when said processing schemas are deployed, access of said service by said client device is regulated according to said traffic plan.
2. The communication system of claim 1 wherein said elements include one or more of a GGSN, a PCRF, an SPR and an OCS.
3. The communication system of claim 1 wherein said elements include one or more of a Mobile Switching Center, Call Session Control Function, Service Capability Interaction Manager (SCIM), Application Server, Multimedia Messaging Service Center (MMS-C), Application Server, Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Gateway, Short Message Service Center (SMS-C), Unified Messaging Server, and content (e.g. music or video) distribution servers.
4. The communication system of claim 2 wherein said policy aspects are respective to said PCRF and said SPR.
5. The communication system of claim 2 wherein said charging aspects are respective to said OCS.
6. The communication system of claim 1 wherein said service is one of software downloads, web-pages, instant messaging, email, web-mail, mapping services, location applications, social networking services and applications, file sharing services and applications, peer-to-peer services, music or video streams or downloads.
7. The communication system of claim 1 wherein said elements are configured to connect said client device to a plurality of different servers hosting different servers and said traffic plan is for regulating access to each of said services.
8. The communication system of claim 7 wherein said services include at least one of software downloads, web-pages, instant messaging, email, web-mail, mapping services, location applications, social networking services and applications, file sharing services and applications, peer-to-peer services, music or video streams or downloads.
9. A configurator in accordance with claim 1.
10. A method for configuring a communication system comprising:
receiving a traffic plan at a configurator;
automatically generating: a first processing schema including policy aspects within said traffic plan, and a second processing schema including charging aspects within said traffic plan; and
deploying each of said first processing schema and said second processing schema at a different one of a plurality of elements of said communication system; each of said elements interconnecting a client device and a server for hosting a service; each of said elements for implementing different aspects of said traffic plan; said traffic plan for regulating access of said service by said client device; such that when said first processing schema and said second processing schema are deployed, access of said service by said client device is regulated according to said traffic plan.
11. The method according to claim 10 wherein said generating step comprises generating a schema that conforms with formatting requirements of each of said elements.
12. The method according to claim 10 wherein said elements include one or more of a GGSN, a PCRF, an SPR and an OCS.
13. The method of claim 10 wherein said elements include one or more of a Mobile Switching Center, Call Session Control Function, Application Server, Service Capability Interaction Manager (SCIM), Multimedia Messaging Service Center (MMS-C), Application Server, Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Gateway, Short Message Service Center (SMS-C), Unified Messaging Server, and content (e.g. music or video) distribution servers.
14. The method according to claim 10 wherein said policy aspects are respective to a PCRF and said SPR.
15. The method according to claim 10 wherein said charging aspects are respective to an OCS.
16. The method according to claim 10 wherein said service is one of software downloads, web-pages, instant messaging, email, web-mail, mapping services, location applications, social networking services and applications, file sharing services and applications, peer-to-peer services, music or video streams or downloads.
17. The method according to claim 10 wherein said elements are configured to connect said client device to a plurality of different servers hosting different servers and said traffic plan is for regulating access to each of said services.
18. The method according to claim 16 wherein said services include at least one of software downloads, web-pages, instant messaging, email, web-mail, mapping services, location applications, social networking services and applications, file sharing services and applications, peer-to-peer services, music or video streams or downloads.
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